October 5, 2007

Those Conservative Europeans…

Posted in The Church, The State at 7:34 pm by Caleb Winn

In March of 2006, I was doing some research and discovered an interesting article about global standards on abortion. I was astonished to discover just how liberal America’s abortion laws are, even compared to nations like Britain, Germany, Sweden, and other parts of post-Christian Europe.

A look at access to abortion around the globe:

EUROPE:Most European countries have legalized abortion, with limits. A representative sampling:

    Britain: Available with limits until the 24th week, after that if the pregnancy threatens the women’s life, may cause grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health or if there is a substantial risk that the baby will be seriously handicapped.


    Germany: Available in the first 12 weeks if the woman is in a “state of distress” and undergoes counseling.

    Spain: Legalized in 1985, available in cases of rape, fetal deformation or risk to the mother’s mental or physical health.

    Sweden: Legalized in 1975 and available on demand until the 18th week; after that social authorities must give permission.


    Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali: Recognize grounds for abortion as saving a woman’s life and protecting her health in cases of rape, incest and fetal impairment, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.


    South Africa: Legal since 1997 on demand in first 12 weeks; from week 13-20 available if a doctor advises and after that only if there is a risk to the woman or fetus.


    China: Legal and common, as government birth control rules limit most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two. Local officials accused of coercing abortions. Legal ban in place on aborting a fetus because of its sex.


    India: Legalized in 1971 and viewed as a way to curb population growth, although access is limited. Prenatal sex determination tests illegal.

    Indonesia: Illegal in world’s most populous Muslim nation except when the mother or fetus have severe health problems.

    Japan: Widely available since 1948; allowed before the 22nd week if mother’s health is at risk from physical or economic factors or if mother was raped or otherwise incapacitated at time of conception.

    Philippines: Illegal in predominantly Roman Catholic country.

LATIN AMERICA: In predominantly Roman Catholic Latin America, abortion is usually illegal, although many countries make exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk. An exception is Cuba, where abortion is legal, widespread and free through universal health system for women over 18. There were 52.5 abortions for every 100 births in 2004, according to Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health.

MIDDLE EAST: Abortion is banned in Middle East nations from Morocco to Iran, in line with Islamic Shariah law, which strictly forbids the practice — though most allow it if the mother’s life is endangered. The sole exception is Tunisia, where abortion is allowed on demand during the first trimester. In Egypt, it is allowed before 120 days if doctor specifies reasons requiring it.

Sociologist Peter Berger famously stated that if Indians are the most religious people in the world, and Swedes the least, then America is a nation of Indians governed by Swedes. But when it comes to protecting the lives of the unborn, even Swedes would think that America is a little out there.


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